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Asia-Pacific equities moved higher in early trading on Tuesday, shrugging off a lacklustre lead from Wall Street and despite caution among some analysts over the latest round of US-China trade talks. 

In Tokyo, the Topix index gained 1.6 per cent with industrials gaining 2.1 per cent and exporters buoyed by a weaker yen. Sydney’s ASX/S&P 200 rose 0.5 per cent, led by 1.2 per cent gains for utilities and healthcare. And the Kospi Composite in Seoul was 0.4 per cent higher with gains for the technology and industrials segments offsetting declines from most major segments. 

However the Hang Seng was off 0.2 in Hong Kong and China’s CSI 300 index of Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed stocks was up only 0.1 per cent shortly after the open. 

The moves followed a nearly flat finish for Wall Street overnight with the S&P 500 eking out a 0.1 per cent gain alongside a similar rise in the Nasdaq Composite. 

ING analysts expected investors to “stay defensive on Tuesday, awaiting fresh developments on the US-China trade front”. 

“Given the lack of clarity, investors will likely look for local data and Fed speakers for direction although any announcement of trade talks going either ways could give some impetus to trade again,” the bank’s analysts said. 

US trade officials are meeting their Chinese counterparts in Beijing this week in a bid to resolve the simmering trade dispute between the world’s two biggest economies before the end of the month – after which tariffs on about $200bn worth of Chinese exports to the US are set to increase from 10 per cent to 25 per cent. 

Nick Marro, an analyst at The Economist Intelligence Unit said the attempts to strike a deal could be derailed by “a number of separate issues”. 

“Potential export controls targeting China, as well as possible moves to ban Chinese telecom equipment from US networks, are also in the pipeline. Movement forward on these issues could torpedo the trade talks regardless of what happens before March,” Mr Marro said.

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